8 Whiskeys That Are Even Better Than Pappy Van Winkle, And Way Easier To Find

Posted by Ilya Dorfman on

In the immortal words of the late, great Aaliyah, “Age ain’t nothing but a number.” When it comes to whiskey, however, age is very important – the time a whiskey spends in a barrel contributes to up to 70 percent of its flavor, according to some experts.

It’s important to remember that old doesn’t always mean better when it comes to brown spirits. Still, age can be a good marketing tool, especially when it comes to the hyped Pappy Van Winkle line of bourbon. Every year, Pappy releases a range of aged bourbon (between 10 and 23 years old) in very limited quantities, and both whiskey aficionados and dilettantes promptly freak out.

Prices soar into the thousands of dollars, lines form at liquor stores the night before the bourbon goes on sale, and two-ounce pours can go for hundreds of dollars at bars.

The bottom line is that yes, Pappy Van Winkle is a very fine aged bourbon, but its high price makes it unobtainable to most people. Luckily, for those that like to drink mature whiskey, there are some other options out there which are much easier to get your hands on, frequently less expensive, and just plain better than Pappy. Here’s a list of other whiskeys to consider.

1. Orphan Barrel Rhetoric 23

This is the tenth release from Diageo’s Orphan Barrel line, and the fourth bearing the Rhetoric name. The whiskey was distilled at the Bernheim Distillery in the early ‘90s and has been aging at the Stitzel-Weller warehouses since then. At 23 years, this is the oldest Rhetoric release so far, although a 24 and 25-year-old will be released over the next two years.

Rhetoric 23 Bourbon | De Wine Spot
2. Blade and Bow 22-Year-Old

This bourbon first came out on Derby Day in 2015, and it was just recently re-released in honor of the 82 anniversary of Louisville’s Stitzel-Weller Distillery. The whiskey is the product of two unnamed distilleries, one in Louisville and the other in Frankfort, and was aged at Stitzel-Weller for at least part of its life.
Blade & Bow 22 | De Wine Spot
3. Michter’s 10 Year Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Michter’s is now distilling its own juice, but for many years the brand has sourced its bourbon from other distilleries, with excellent results. The regular US1 range is good, but the 10 Year Bourbon is exceptional. It’s a single barrel release with a flavor that is much deeper and richer than the core expressions.
MICHTER'S 10 YEARS OLD SINGLE BARREL | De Wine Spot
4. Hochstadter’s Family Reserve 16 Year Straight Rye

The Cooper Spirits Co. sources and bottles this 16-year-old 100 percent rye whiskey from Alberta Distilleries Limited in Canada. This release was limited to 7,500 bottles. It packs a bunch with a cask strength of 123.8 proof, so don’t be afraid to add a little water here - in fact, you definitely should do so. Then sit back and enjoy some fruity, spicy rye whiskey at full power.
HOCHSTADTER'S 1884 FAMILY RESERVE 16 YEARS AGED STRAIGHT RYE WHISKEY | De Wine Spot
5. Four Roses 2017 Limited Edition 50 Anniversary Small Batch Bourbon

This new release from Four Roses came out in June in honor of senior brand ambassador and Four Roses legend Al Young, who has been with the company for half a century. It’s made up of a blend of four of Four Roses’ ten unique whiskey recipes, clocking in at 12, 13, 15, and 23 years each. The bottle features a retro design that harkens back to 1967, the year Young first started working at the company.
FOUR ROSES 2017 SMALL BATCH LIMITED EDITION AL YOUNG’S 50TH ANNIVERSARY | De Wine Spot
6. Wild Turkey Master’s Keep Decades

This is the second Master’s Keep release from Wild Turkey. The first was a 17-year-old bourbon, while the current bottle is a blend of 10-20-year-old whiskey personally selected by master distiller Eddie Russell. He’s celebrating his 35 years in the whiskey industry, so Decades is both a tribute to and special project for Russell.
WILD TURKEY MASTER’S KEEP "DECADES" | De Wine Spot
7. Booker’s “Blue Knights Batch”

At only six years old, this is the youngest whiskey on this list, but Booker’s always impresses with its vibrant barrel-strength flavor and proof (this new release, due out in June, weighs in at an impressive 127.4). The new batch is named “Blue Knights” as a tribute to the motorcycle club comprised of active and retired police officers that the late Jim Beam master distiller Booker Noe forged a friendship with.
Booker's Blue Knights Batch | De Wine Spot
8. Knob Creek 25 Anniversary

Knob Creek, part of Jim Beam’s Small Batch collection, is celebrating its 25 anniversary this year with the release of this 12-13-year-old bourbon. It’s a bold statement –single barrel, unfiltered, and barrel strength at between 120 and 125 proof. Basically, this is regular Knob Creek on steroids and is available now.

KNOB CREEK 25TH ANNIVERSARY | De Wine Spot

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2017 Bourbon Release Calendar

Posted by William Whelan on

Dates listed are when distilleries begin to release a product to market. Individual states will vary. We are constantly working with distilleries to try to confirm the release dates.

Q1 2017 Q2 2017 Q3 2017 Q4 2017


JANUARY

FEBRUARY

MARCH

APRIL

MAY

JUNE

JULY

AUGUST

SEPTEMBER

OCTOBER

  • Barrell Whiskey Batch 006
  • Chattanooga Whiskey Experimental Series Batch 002 & 003
  • High West A Midwinter's Night Dram Act 5 
  • Little Book
  • Pappy Van Winkle Collection

NOVEMBER

  • Angel's Envy Bourbon Cask Strength
  • Barrell Bourbon 2018 New Year Bourbon Limited Edition
  • Barrell Bourbon Batch 014
  • Wigle Hopped Whiskey
  • Wigle's Landing
  • Wigle Straight Allegheny Wheat Whiskey
  • Woodford Master's Collection

DECEMBER

  • Stranahan's Snowflake 2017
  • Wigle Rye Rysky 
  • Wigle Straight Pennsylvania Bourbon

EXPECTED IN 2017

  • 1792 Bottled in Bond
  • Basil Hayden's Dark Rye
  • Belle Meade Black Belle
  • Booker's Bourbon Roundtable
  • Catskill Straight Rye Whiskey
  • Collabor&tion Finished in Brandy Barrels
  • Collabor&tion Finished in Muscat Mistelle Barrels
  • Evan Williams Master Blend
  • Few Rye Whiskey Cask Strength
  • Few Single Malt
  • Forty Creek Heritage 2017 Limited Edition
  • Garrison Brothers Port Finish Texas Bourbon
  • Gentleman Jack Limited Edition
  • Hartfield & Co. American Whiskey
  • Heaven Hill "New" Bottled in Bond
  • Heaven Hill 80th Anniversary
  • Heaven Hill Select Stock Double Oaked
  • High West Blue Sky Ranch Rye
  • High West (Distilled) Malt Whiskey
  • High West (Distilled) Rye Whiskey
  • Hirsch 8 Year Bourbon
  • Hirsch 8 Year High Rye
  • Hochstadter's Family Reserve Rye 15 Year
  • Isaac Bowman Port Barrel Finished
  • Jack Daniel's Barrel Aged Rye
  • Jefferson's 20 Year
  • Jefferson's Journey
  • Jefferson's New Fill
  • Jefferson's Presidential Select 16 Year Old Twin Oak
  • Jefferson's Very Small Batch
  • Jim Beam Distiller's Cut
  • Koval Collaboration Series #2
  • Koval Collaboration Series #3
  • Lock Stock & Barrel 18 Year
  • Maker's Mark Breeder's Cup 2016 Edition: Zenyatta
  • Maker's Mark Breeder's Cup 2017 Edition: Cigar
  • Maker's Mark Cask Strength SB: The Final 3 Barrels
  • Maker's Mark Cask Strength SB: The First 3 Barrels
  • Maker's Mark Dale Chihuly Label
  • Medley Family Private Selection Barrel Proof
  • Michter's 25 Year Rye
  • Old Forester Whiskey Row: 1910: Old Fine Whiskey
  • Old Forester Whiskey Row: 1923
  • Peerless Bourbon Series 1
  • Redemption Bourbon 9 Year
  • Redemption Rye The Ancients: 18 Year
  • Redemption The Ancients: 36 Year
  • Seven Stills Sea Farmer
  • Smooth Ambler Old Scout American Whiskey
  • Templeton Rye Special Reserve
  • Truman Cox Commemorative Series: Emerson Cox Barrel
  • Truman Cox Commemorative Series: First Whiskey Barrel
  • Truman Cox Commemorative Series: Jayden Quinn Barrel
  • Tin Cup 10 Year
  • Wathen's Barrel Proof
  • WhistlePig Double Malt
  • Willett Wheat
  • Woodford Reserve Distillery Series: Ozark Oak
  • Woodford Reserve Five Malt
BEYOND 2017
  • Buffalo Trace Single Estate Bourbon
  • Buffalo Trace Single Oak Project Winner
  • E.H. Taylor Four Grain (2018 Release)
  • Nelson Green Brier Tennessee Whiskey
  • Ray's Reserve Batch 2
  • Rhetoric 24 Year
  • Wild Turkey 101 Year Celebration
Unknown Dates
  • 8 Feathers Teff Whiskey Single Barrel
  • 9 Banded
  • Amazing Whiskey
  • Ancient Age 5 Star
  • Backroom Bourbon
  • Balcones Texas Bourbon Whiskey
  • Balcones Texas Bourbon Whiskey Single Barrel
  • Balcones Texas 100% Rye Whiskey
  • Balcones Texas Single Malt Whiskey Classic Edition
  • Balcones 3 Grain Texas Whiskey
  • Belmont Farm Distillery Special Reserve 25
  • Black Button Four Grain Port Finished
  • Black Button Rohrbach All Malt Whiskey
  • Black Button Aged Rye
  • Bourbon 30
  • #Bromance Whiskey
  • Calumet Farm Single Rack Black 10 Year
  • Canadian Stag
  • CH Straight Bourbon Whiskey
  • Cleveland Rye Whiskey
  • Cleveland Underground
  • Crippled Crow Rye Whiskey
  • David Nicholson Rye
  • Discount Unicorn White Whiskey
  • [E] Whiskey
  • Elijah Craig 1789
  • Evan Williams 18 Year
  • Exquisite Whiskey
  • Fillmroe Sacramento Straight Bourbon Whiskey
  • Forbidden Bourbon
  • George Washington Single Malt Whiskey
  • Giants of the Earth Bourbon
  • Hell Year Bourbon Whiskey
  • Hirsch Reserve Selected 
  • Hog Fuel
  • Hookers House Epicenter Whiskey
  • Hoovers Revenge Rye 
  • Islay Rye
  • J. Becher Straight Rye Whiskey
  • J. Riddle Peated Bourbon 
  • Jefferson's Bordeaux Finish
  • Joseph Magnus Bourbon: Triple Cask Finish
  • Journeyman Distillery Last Feather Rye
  • Kelsey Creek Bourbon Whiskey
  • Kentucky Best Whiskey
  • Las Vegas Distillery Kamut
  • Lazy RW Frontier Straight Whiskey
  • Leadslingers Bourbon Whiskey
  • Linfield Rye Whiskey
  • New Holland Pub on 8th Bourbon Whiskey BIB
  • O.Z. Tyler Small Batch Rye
  • Old Grumpy Bastard Blended American Whiskey
  • Old Overholt Bonded
  • Remus Repeal Reserve 
  • Pendergast's Royal Gold Bourbon
  • Preacher's Pardon
  • Rye Smile
  • Smooth Ambler Stillhouse Collection: Recipe 2
  • St. George California Straight Bourbon Whiskey
  • Stray Rye Whiskey
  • Splinter Group Spirits Rye
  • Stitzel Bourbon
  • Stitzel barrel Aged American Whiskey
  • Storm Tossed Rye
  • Texas Gold Whiskey Hollow
  • This is Texas Hand Cut Whiskey
  • Tom Foolery Bonded Rye
  • Tom Foolery Single Barrel
  • Very Olde St. Nick Estate Reserve
  • Very Olde St. Nick Estate Reserve 8 Year
  • Very Olde St. Nick Barrel Proof Estate Reserve
  • Wayward Bourbon Whiskey
  • Wigle Whiskey Cognac Finish
  • Wild Turkey Master's Keep 1894
  • Wild Turkey Master's Keep: Revival 
  • Willett White Whiskey Rye
  • Willett White Whiskey Wheat
  • Willett XCF Version 2.0
  • Woodford Reserve Legacy Barrel
  • Woodford Reserve Malt
RUMORED
  • Angel's Envy Rye Cask Strength
  • Buffalo Trace Peated Bourbon 
  • E.H. Taylor "O.F.C." New Recipe: White Corn
  • Maker's Mark 46 Cask Strength
  • Michter's 30 Year Straight Bourbon
  • Strongbox - Orphan Barrel

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        Varieties of Blanton's Releases

        Posted by Ilya Dorfman on

        Blanton's is a brand owned by Age International Inc. In 1991, Takara Shuzo Co., Ltd. acquired a stake in Age International and later gained complete control of the company. Takara Shuzo is a Japanese company that makes all sorts of beverages, including sake, bourbon, and scotch, and has subsidiaries around the world.

        Even though the brand is owned by Age International, Buffalo Trace Distillery actually produces Blanton's and distributes it in the United States. All Blanton's comes from Warehouse "H," a metal warehouse that Colonel Blanton thought produced the best bourbon.

        In addition to Blanton's, Buffalo Trace produces several other bourbons for Age International using its lower-corn Mash Bill #2. These brands include Ancient Age, Elmer T. Lee, Hancock's Reserve and Rock Hill Farm.

        Blanton's markets itself as the first single barrel whiskey. In the United States, only Blanton's Original Single Barrel is widely available. In Japan, and much of the rest of the world, however, five or six varieties of Blanton's are available:

         Name Label Color Proof Notes
        Original Single Barrel Brown 93 Standard U.S. Release
        Special Reserve Green 80 For markets that tax alcohol based on proof
        Black Edition Black 80 Japan Only
        Silver Edition Silver 98 Discontinued Duty-Free Bottling
        Gold Edition Gold 103 No actual label. The text that normally appears on the label is etched onto the glass in gold.
        Straight From The Barrel Edition Brown 130 Uncut and Unfiltered


        There is no barrel selection for Blanton's. That is, certain barrels from Warehouse H are selected as fitting the Blanton's profile and are simply bottled at different proofs to create the various expressions. The only difference between Blanton's Gold Edition and the Original Single Barrel is the amount of Kentucky limestone water added before bottling. Because this is a single barrel bourbon, however, there will difference between bottles. 

        In addition to the above bottlings, there are various limited edition bottlings of Blanton's for La Maison du Whisky, a specialty liquor store in Paris. These are store picks of Blanton's, but each edition has a special label that departs dramatically from the standard Blanton's monochrome labels.

        Moreover, to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Blanton's Single Barrel, there is also a 30th-anniversary release (only for the Japanese market).

        Warehouse H at Buffalo Trace Distillery | De Wine Spot

        If you are lucky enough to try a few of these, which one is your favorite? Let us know in the comments!

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        Four Roses Production Process Explained

        Posted by Ilya Dorfman on

        When you look on a bottle of Four Roses Single barrel bourbon you may be confused to see “OBSF” or “OESF”. These initials indicate the recipe that was used for that barrel. Hopefully, this page helps you decode the Four Roses bourbon. The first letter in every recipe is “O”. This indicates that it was produced at the Four Roses Distillery in Lawrenceburg, KY. The third letter will always be “S”, which designates straight whiskey distillation. The recipes become a lot clearer when you realize there are only two variables in each recipe, the mashbill and the yeast.

        Four Roses uses ten different recipes for their bourbon compiled of two mashbills and five unique strands of yeast.

        E = The mashbill that is 75% corn, 20% rye, 5% malted barley
        B = The mashbill that is 60% corn, 35% rye, 5% malted barley

        K = Yeast K rich in spiciness, full bodied

        Q = Yeast Q slightly fruity, spicy, medium bodied

        O = Yeast O is floral (rose petal), spicy, medium bodied

        F = Yeast F is more herbal

        V = Yeast V is delicate fruit, spicy and creamy

        De Wine Spot | FOUR ROSES BOURBON INFOGRAPHIC
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        George T Stagg Release Year "Cheat Sheet"

        Posted by Ilya Dorfman on

        George T Stagg Release Years

        Each year of the Stagg release is a different proof as they are all barrel proof which undergoes different evaporation rates as they age. Here is the quick cheat sheet you can use to make sure the bottle of George T Stagg you are buying is the correct release year. Continue reading...

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